When you approach the old Madison County Courthouse in Danielsville from the south, you will see a marble statue next to the building. Do you have any idea who it is and why it is there? It is a replica of one of the two statues that represents Georgia in our national capital. It is of Doctor Crawford W. Long.
Dr. Long, the most celebrated native of Madison County, was born just west of the courthouse square on November 1, 1815. He is known worldwide for being the first doctor to use an anesthesia while performing surgery on a patient. He was the son of a merchant and planter in Danielsville, Georgia. A transcript of the first meeting of the Madison County government shows that Mr. Long received a license to sell “spurious spirits” in his store.
While a student at the University of Georgia, Crawford W. Long shared a room with Alexander Stephens, Vice president of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Long was a cousin of the western legend Doc Holliday.
As a student, Dr. Long had been present when other students were experimenting with several chemicals known as “laughing gas,” including diethyl ether. He had noticed that when people under the influence of the gas fell down, they experienced no pain. So, when James M. Venable came to his office in Jefferson to have a tumor removed from his neck, Long exposed him to ether prior to the surgery. Venable reported no pain during the surgery.
Dr. Long then used the technique for numerous procedures from childbirth to amputations. The first event occurred in 1842, but he did not report his success until 1842 when the results of these trials were published in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal. Although Northern doctor, William T. G. Morton, is known for performing a demonstration of ether anesthesia on Oct. 16, 1846 in Boston, Massachusetts, Long is now regarded as the first to have administered ether anesthesia for surgery.
The marble statue, carved by J. Massey Rhind. was donated in 1926, and is located in the Crypt area of the capital building. Rhind was an American sculptor born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and trained in various European centers of art. He is well known for carving monuments of many American Civil War personalities, but his carving of Crawford W. Long is considered by many to be his best work.
The second statue from Georgia in the hall is of Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America. It was carved by Gutzon Borglum who later became famous for carving Mount Rushmore. I will have more about Borglum’s connection to Georgia in a later column.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
Yes, Frank writes great columns and I didn't know much about Crawford Long. I always learn a lot from his writings. I had heart valve surgery in 2002 at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta and thought the name change a couple of years back was an insult to Dr. Long. Why not retain the original name ? I remember Frank wrote a column about it.